07 January, 2010

Review: Demon's Bane, by David Douglas

David Douglas, a man of many talents, has made his dream come through. His first book has been published. David has been so kind to send me a copy of Demon's Bane (2009, 278 p.) [DE] [US][UK]. You may ask why there are three sources. David's mother tongue is English but he lives in Germany.

As quid pro quo I promised the author to write a review. No encomium like "this is the rebirth of J. R.R. Tolkien" but to be fair and square.

Before I start with review let me bring up that the cover design of the book and the included map has been done by the author himself. And David did not forget to add an appendix with the cast of characters. The front cover illustration has been done by J. W. Parente.

A Cover Note

I' afraid the cover is a bit misleading. It reminded me more of a fairy tale than of an entertaining fantasy story. I would have preferred a cover in the style of the picture on the back of the book which is the same that you see on the website. Anyway never judge a book by its cover. So what is the book about?

The Setup

As the title reveals demons loom large.......
The story takes place on the continent of Kartus. Senn Morel is "little man" (he turns 15 during the story) and has more than talent for magic. His life changes completely when demons possess his mother and they butcher his clan. After days on the run with few remaining clan members Senn is focused on one goal: get his mother back and revenge for the clan. But the demons are powerful and they hunt him across the country. Senn needs allies to fit his goal. How will the confrontation end? And what is the final plan of the demons?

My Take in Brief

The story is told in 22 named chapters from a third person point of view by switching between characters and/or groups. And these are the ingredients: A young hero in development, friends, allies, family roots, medieval style weapons (axe, sword, bow, spear), fastest way to travel is by horse or ship, a well explained magic system, magic objects like orbs and demons. You may toss in that this is nothing new under the sun. I answer you it depends on what you do with it.
And I must say Dave used the ingredients well. Fortunately Senn is not the omnipotent hero. The author is not afraid to kill important persons. He does a great job of explaining his magic system. I don't want to go in detail but there are different types of magic like earth magic, heat magic, cold magic. And Senn has to learn them all. Dave didn't forget to flavor the story with a pinch of humor. Let me give an example. Senn gets the task to trap an animal. Which kind of magic should he use?
"Earth magic was too slow - what would he do, persuade a bush to grow around the animal and trap it?" [page 60]
And there are two more things I would like to emphasize: Compared to other authors like Richard Morgan in The Steel Remains[US][UK] , David use a flowery language to describe sex. I found it pleasant because it leaves it up to you to depict the scene and of course it is less offending. But for me the most remarkable thing is his splendid representation of the demons which are not pressed in this often used black and white scheme. I don't want to spoil but remember the Black Mamba and Xiuhcoatl when you read the book. For me the demons are the "spice" of the book.
And due to the appendix with the cast of the characters you don't get confused.
On 278 pages you don't geht so in depth philosophical thoughts but the more entertaining story which is as varied as the landscape. The travel takes you from large forests over plains to the sea. The story ends with the possibility for one or more sequels.
When you want to read a refreshing and really entertaining story in a non door stopper format with a plucky "little man", a good magic system and intriguing demons then I recommend to read Demon's Bane which is - I need to repeat it - David's debut novel.
Thank you David for some really entertaining hours. If your goal has been to "feed" readers with an entertaining book then you have hit the bullseye.

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

What is Bona Fide's Book Oracle? To keep it short. It is a palaver about the reviewed book held by ediFanoB and his alter ego Bona Fide. And I am the keeper of the minutes. Now read my minutes.
Bona: "Why should we talk about an old book?" Fide: "Why old?" Bona: "Because it is from December 2009!" Fide: "Pinhead! That means the book is just a few weeks on the market." Bona: "And did anyone review it?" Fide: "I found one at amazon.com. That means it is about time that we will take action." Bona: "Aaah, the reminds me of an old TV series...." [watch the video, the keeper of the minutes]

Fide: "I don't agree. This mission is NOT impossible! Maybe you read the wrong book." Bona: "I read something about demons." Fide: "OK. Then we read the same book. I think I would like to be come a demon in my next life." Bona: "You?? A demon in next life?? Not more than a protozoon!" Fide: "That's offending! Hey get out of my head!" Bona: "Why? That is what demons are doing. Takeover people." Fide: "Message understood. I won't become a demon." Bona: "I think it is sufficient to read about it." Fide: "You're right. Like this entertaining Demon's Bane." Bona: "Yes, yes. Xiuhcoatl is awesome. He alone is worth to read the book." Fide: "Don't forget Shyama." Bona: "Seems we both liked the story." Fide: "Yes. For me it was refreshing and entertaining." Bona: "But it passed so fast. Just 278 pages!" Fide: "That was quite relaxing after all these door stoppers. You know sometimes you need these books where you just jump in, stay and enjoy, feel comfortable and leave with a good feeling." Bona: "You steel my words and confuse me. I just forget to mention that I liked the magic system too. Fide: "Fortunately you don't have any magic abilities except to be boring." Bona: "Better a slowpoke than a twerp." Fide: "That's definitely going to far. You dsfefkiwqwd ddkmdfqer awdfreq!!!" [censored]
I'm the keeper of the minutes and I think the time has come to stop this chitchat. Now it is up to you to make up your mind about Demon's Bane.....
As a starter you can read the first chapters online or download in PDF format.

And finally let me say that David is keen to read comments and more reviews about his Demon's Bane.
So please leave a comment here or contact David.

More David Douglas

Dave's Photo & Travelblogue contains more information about the author. Visit David Douglas' website for more information about Demon's Bane and other news.


David Douglas said...

I appreciate the review and the comments - the cover is definitely not perfect, but is what I could come up with. Perhaps I will swap it out later if I get new art. I hope that readers will enjoy the book, and get ready for the next one ;)

Many thanks, -David

ediFanoB said...

Thank you David.

Even nobody (except you) left a comment I can tell you from the blog statistics that so far over 80 people viewed the review and stayed on average 4:29 minutes.

I think that is not that bad. Hopefully some of them will buy and read your book.

I definitely look forward to your next book. Anyway good luck!

Roberta said...

So much helpful data for me!